Trump recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli territory alongside Netanyahu
As President Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House Monday, Israel Defense Forces announced they have begun striking Hamas targets along the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a residence in Israel. Mr. Trump signed a non-binding proclamation formally recognizing Israeli's sovereignty over Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967, undoing decades of U.S. policy in the region.
Netanyahu was supposed to have a state dinner at the White House Tuesday and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but cut his visit short after the residential rocket hit, as already sky-high tensions in the region build.
"The despicable attack this morning demonstrates the significant security challenges that Israel faces every single day," Mr. Trump said alongside Netanyahu at the White House. "And today I am taking historic action to promote Israel's ability to defend itself."
The visit is a high-profile visit for the embattled prime minister, who is facing a slew of corruption charges as he stands for re-election next month. The visit with the president showcases the strong ties between the U.S. and Israel as well as the warm relationship Netanyahu shares with Mr. Trump. Netanyahu praised Israel's relationship with the U.S., saying Israel has never found a stronger friendship than it does now in Mr. Trump. He also condemned the rocket striking the Israeli residence, and said Israel will always defend itself.
"Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this," Netanyahu said.
"We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state," the Israeli prime minister continued.
Last week, Mr. Trump gave Netanyahu another boost with his tweet asserting that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War. Peace talks between Syria and Israel have continued on and off since Israel unilaterally annexed the area in 1981, a move which was not recognized internationally.
Here is the text of the Golan Heights proclamation the White House released shortly after the president's remarks.
"The State of Israel took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 to safeguard its security from external threats. Today, aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel. Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Israel's need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats. Based on these unique circumstances, it is therefore appropriate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
" NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim that, the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel.
"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third."
Netanyahu's visit also comes a day after the attorney general released a summary of findings by special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice. Mueller, according to Attorney General William Barr's summary of the report, concluded that the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government in its attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but his office did not reach a conclusion on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice. On this matter, Mueller stated that, "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," according to Barr. Asked Monday if he believes Mueller acted honorably, Mr. Trump responded, "Yes, he did."
"It's lasted a long time, we're glad it's over," Mr. Trump said of the Mueller probe. "It's 100 percent the way it should have been. I wish it could have gone a lot sooner a lot quicker."
Asked if he thinks Mueller's full report should be released, the president answered, "It's up to the AG but it wouldn't bother me at all."
Mr. Trump welcomed the summary and declared himself completely exonerated on Sunday. "Complete and total exoneration," he told reporters as he left Florida for Washington. "It's a shame that our country had to go through it," Mr. Trump said, adding that he hoped there would be an investigation "into the other side."
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